Editorial: The latest and greatest thing you
have to do for your own good
ONE THING about the
government: You can always count on it to come up with plenty
of new things for people to be required to do. Some of these
rules are actually good ideas and go to government’s most
basic purposes, such as making the streets safe and protecting
And then there’s the 1.28-gallon toilet.
Not too long ago, faced with an intractable water shortage
that threatened the health and safety of the people of the
Monterey Peninsula, the local water district went deep into
its well of wisdom and started requiring people to get rid of
the four- or five-gallon-per-flush toilets that had been
around since the toilet was invented, and replace them with
new, eco-friendly 1.6-gallon per flush models. Over the years,
tens of thousands of local homeowners and businesses have
complied at great expense. The new toilets work poorly, make a
lot of noise and constantly have to be double-flushed and
cleaned, but, hey, we’ve gotten used to them. The water
shortage is an emergency, right? So who’s going to complain
about spending a few hundred bucks and going to quite a bit of
inconvenience when there’s an emergency to be alleviated?
Truly, we’ve all been indoctrinated with the idea that never
hosing off a sidewalk, installing low-flow showerheads,
faucets and toilets, planting drought-tolerant landscapes, and
instituting a host of other water-saving measures are
practically moral obligations, and requiring universal
compliance with such precepts is one of the essential
achievements of modern law and environmental
conscientiousness. Hooray for the 1.6-gallon toilet.
Unfortunately, as with most environmental issues, yesterday’s
triumph of green thinking and technology is today’s wasteful
capitulation to consumerism and capitalistic excess.
Thus, just as suddenly as pretty much everybody got through installing and learning to live with the 1.6-gallon toilet, voilà!, it’s no longer good enough. You must switch to the latest and greatest 1.28-gallon model.
Of course, you’re being offered a “rebate” to make the
switch. But the rebate is with your money. BFD, as they say on
When programs such as this come along, you have to wonder if
the toilet-manufacturing lobby is behind the change. Remember
when GFI outlets became required for every outlet in new homes
and remodels? You can be sure the people who make those
expensive outlets were the proponents of the rule. And when
carbon-monoxide detectors were suddenly required in every
single-family home, the smart money would have invested a year
or two ago in the companies that manufacture those detectors
and the retailers that sell them. Radon detectors aren’t
required in every living room yet? Somewhere, somebody is
working on the campaign to convince Congress and state
legislatures that people all over this great nation are dying
horrible deaths that would be prevented ... if only every
family were required to spend $100.
And somewhere else, the half-gallon-per-flush toilet is being
developed, and after that the waterless model. (Oh, wait. They
already have that. It’s called an outhouse.)
Keep working, folks, because you’re going to need a lot of money to buy things you don’t yet realize you can’t be allowed to live without.